Sunk Costs and Real Options in Antitrust
Robert S. Pindyck
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
MIT Sloan Working Paper No. 4545-05
Sunk costs play a central role in antitrust economics, but are often misunderstood and mismeasured. I will try to clarify some of the conceptual and empirical issues related to sunk costs, and explain their implications for antitrust analysis. I will be particularly concerned with the role of uncertainty. When market conditions evolve unpredictably (as they almost always do), firms incur an opportunity cost when they invest in new capital, because they give up the option to wait for the arrival of new information about the likely returns from the investment. This option value is a sunk cost, and is just as relevant for antitrust analysis as the direct cost of a machine or a factory.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: Sunk costs, real options, investment decisions, antitrust, entry barriers, market power, mergers
JEL Classification: L40, L10, D43
Date posted: June 13, 2005
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